Born in a barn in 1909, Leo Fender seems an unlikely father of rock ’n’ roll. But as the man whose company perfected the solid-body electric guitar, his contribution to contemporary music cannot be overstated. Just take a look at the albums whose musicians thought enough of their Fender guitar to put it on the cover: Eric Clapton’s "Layla," Bruce Springsteen’s "Born To Run," Jeff Beck’s "Wired," The Pretenders’s (Chrissie Hynde) "Get Close," Bonnie Raitt’s "Nick of Time." The list of influential artists who play a Fender is just about endless.
Fender’s first solid-body electric guitar was introduced in 1950. It debuted as the one-pickup Esquire before the name of the two-pickup model was changed to Broadcaster. But Gretsch was already using the name Broadkaster on some of its instruments, so the name was changed again.
Between names, the company made the most of its remaining Fender Broadcaster decals by cutting off the word Broadcaster so that only the Fender brand made it onto the guitar’s headstock. Today, collectors call these guitars Nocasters. Only about 60 Nocasters were made, which makes them extremely collectible, but by April of 1951 the guitar would finally get a name that would stick, the Telecaster.
The Stratocaster came next in 1954. Unlike the Telecaster, whose ash body was outlined with rib-digging 45-degree edges, the Strat had a sculpted body that fit players like a glove. Three pickups gave the instrument unprecedented tonal range, as did a vibrato bar that would bend the guitar’s strings when pressed. And instead of the Telecaster’s blond, natural-wood finish, the Strat was offered in a number of colors, including the iconic sunburst (golden-yellow in the middle fading to black on the outside).
Solid-body electric bass guitars were also a Fender innovation. The Precision bass was introduced in 1951. It had a headstock that was virtually identical to that of the Telecaster and a body that turned out to be a preview of the 1954 Strat. By 1957, the Precision’s headstock had been redesigned to mirror the Stratocaster’s, and that version of the bass remains largely unchanged today. The Jazz Bass was added to the low-octave lineup in 1960, and a six-string bass was offered in 1961.
Fender launched two other major guitar lines in the 1950s. The first of these was a pair of low-cost models, the Duo-Sonic and the Musicmaster, both of which were introduced in 1956. These guitars were for kids who wanted to learn how to play without having to shell out the big bucks for a Stratocaster ($274.50 for a Strat versus $119.50 for a Musicmaster). The other initiative was a high-end guitar called the Jazzmaster, which retailed at the time for $329.50. It had a rosewood fingerboard on the standard maple neck, and switches that let the guitarist bounce between rhythm and lead sounds.
In 1962, Fender introduced the Jaguar, which combined a Jazzmaster body with a Stratocaster head. The Mustang, an update of the Duo-Sonic, was added in 1964. Years later, Nirvana...
But the 1960s are best known as the decade when Jimi Hendrix did things to his Stratocaster that nobody had thought possible, from setting it on fire to playing wailing, psychedelic versions of "The Star-Spangled Banner." Alas for Fender, it was also the decade that the company was sold to CBS—for Fender purists, the years 1965 to 1985 are like a 20-year musical drought.
Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)
Vintage Guitars Info
Vintage Guitar and Bass
Clubs & Associations
Other Great Reference Sites
Most watched eBay auctions
Recent News: Fender Guitars
Source: Google News
Vince Gill: Nashville's Guitar BardPremier Guitar, April 28th
A cache of vintage Les Pauls, Teles, Strats, J-45s, and Martin acoustics, along with Fender Champs, Little Walters, and other classic combos, all made the rounds, with each chosen for the color and character it would lend to the song. My dream is to...Read more
Dave's Corner: Basic Guitar Amplifier Output Stage Circuits ExplainedReverb News (press release) (blog), April 28th
Small, single-ended amps — such as the Fender Champ, Vox AC4 and Epiphone Valve Junior, which carry just one output tube — don't require a phase inverter, but sometimes have a driver tube to further increases preamp voltage before the output stage...Read more
Essential Listening: 10 Great Fuzz Guitar SongsGuitar World Magazine, April 28th
is a prime example of Hendrix playing his Fender Strat through a germanium Fuzz Face pedal (a Fuzz Face using germanium transistors.) Most germanium pedals simply reflect the qualities of a vintage tube amp, but in super-cranked mode, providing a warm ...Read more
BluGuitar Amp1 ReviewPremier Guitar, April 28th
Small variations of touch come through loud and clear, and everything reacts dramatically to guitar-knob adjustments. ... Vintage mode reminds me of a dual-6V6 Fender combo—a nice little Princeton, maybe—though Blug describes it as “British...Read more
Focus On: Vintage Guitars of Cold SpringPutnam County News and Recorder (subscription), April 27th
The store carries an array of guitars, from Fender Stratocasters to Gibson Les Pauls with a guitar for any budget, from the beginner to the top professionals. Both gentlemen play, but Ginsberg pointed to Glenn and said, “This is the legend right here...Read more
Reverb Interview: Bluesman Keb' Mo'Reverb News (press release) (blog), April 25th
I like that it's a hybrid. Everybody's trying to make an amp sound like a vintage Fender, basically. ... And I tune my guitar sound to the room so that when I'm up there playing and singing into the audience, I can have a flawless encounter. I have all...Read more
Tony Vega Band's 'Black Magic Box' Is Perfectly in TuneHouston Press, April 22nd
“Funny thing is, I am and always will be a Fender guy,” Vega explains. “I've disliked every Gibson I had played, owned and encountered, except for this one vintage Gibson hollow-body I had tried years ago; it was amazing in every way, but beyond my...Read more
Review: All the Power Without the Fuss—the Fender AcoustasonicAcoustic Guitar, April 1st
Fender is most celebrated for its electric guitar amps, which date back to those made by Leo Fender himself in the 1940s. The tube amps that the ... Now a classic, it has appeared in numerous variations, each offering great new features to the basic...Read more